The Sabres put together a little hot streak after the All-Star break. However, the past 2 games, they have gone right back to where they were before.
Can Buffalo make the playoffs? Yes. Is it a long shot? It doesn’t have to be, but the way Buffalo is playing, yes.
Which now begs the question, what should Buffalo do over the next two weeks with the trade deadline rapidly approaching? Buffalo has a couple of options that they can act on. Buffalo can be buyers, get a few of the proverbial rent-a-players, and try to make an unthinkable run to squeak into the playoffs and make it past the first round. I personally like this option. Buffalo fans deserve to see this team become Stanley Cup Champs. They’ve been waiting a long time. Management should be doing everything in their power to ensure that the team on ice is competitive.
Realistically... Hang on, I have to take a pause so I can stop laughing.
Everyone knows that Regier won’t do this. He doesn’t believe in the “rent-a-player” philosophy, and would like to trade for a player who has 2 years left on a contract in order to maximize Buffalo’s return. Plus, I think Regier has made it pretty clear that as long as he’s general manager, there won’t be a Cup in Buffalo.
The second option Buffalo has, and most logical, is to be sellers. Time to start offloading players in hopes of landing someone who you can build your team around. Regier’s “core” isn’t going to bring a championship to Buffalo. Buffalo needs to get rid of some of the players who are burning up cap space, and trimming some of the excess waste on this team. For example, Gragnani, Sekera, bye bye. I don’t think the Sabres need them, and a lot of teams are looking for good defensemen. Bring up McNabb, and the defense is set. Also start getting rid of some of this core, bring up a couple of the younger players, and try to land someone in a trade, and in free agency come July. I personally would like to see Kassian in Buffalo next season, let him grow into the NHL. Kassian is the type of forward Buffalo needs, a goal scorer, and a guy whose not afraid to get his hands dirty.
In addition, Buffalo needs to get players who work in the system well, and together. Certain players aren’t able to play to their full potential because of the line combinations, and the different styles on the team. For example, Luke Adam is a goal scorer... That’s not going to happen when he’s playing with Cody McCormick and Matt Ellis, 2 of the enforcers. Hence, why Adam is in Rochester. Same thing with Leino. Leino looked pretty good with Roy and Pominville, but when he went back down to the more physical lines, he can’t utilize his offense abilities, and the Sabres can’t get a good return on his talent. Identify what needs to happen with the team. Do you want to just mismatch lines, or do you want like minded lines? I think Buffalo only needs 1 enforcer line, and should try to get another scorer or two to put out 3 lines with the ability to put the puck in the net. Make sure that the lines should be set based on the players strengths, and their ability to work well together. Their abilities should be matched accordingly. You don’t put a goal scorer with 2 guys who start fights.
My thoughts on this are clear, and I think it’s pretty obvious what I think the Sabres should do... Rebuild, and fast. With the right moves, Buffalo can be right back in the playoff hunt next year.
As logical as this is right now, Regier, won’t do it. (I know, big shocker there).
Oh, I left out a third option. Do nothing, hold a press conference about it, and emphasize how you feel this team can win, and that injuries have placed Buffalo where they are right now.
DING DING DING!!!! We have a winner!!!!!
Again, injuries aren’t an excuse for losing. Plus, this team can’t win. They are healthy, and are still losing games. What’s your excuse now? Buffalo doesn’t have the type of team to pull this off this year. There’s no big players to rally around, and only Vanek and Pominville, and Miller are the guys who deliver night in, night out.
Why won’t Buffalo start the rebuilding process now? Simple, Darcy Regier just won’t do it. Plus, I don’t think he has the ability to do it. He loves the core too much. He also has another problem right now, Buffalo isn’t a place that players, who want a championship, want to come. His best option is to try to lure in some of the young, up and coming talent in the league to Buffalo, and emphasize that Buffalo is rebuilding, and is going to be back in the hunt next year.
What has to happen for Buffalo to start make the key moves to get this team to being a serious threat in the Eastern Conference? Simple, a new GM.
Unfortunately, nothing will happen until the last game of the season. Buffalo won’t be doing this as long as Darcy in in charge. After the last game of the season, and the Sabres prematurely start their golf season, Darcy will be fired. Now he could surprise me, but I doubt it. I don’t see anything big tradewise coming for Buffalo this year. Darcy won’t pull the trigger.
The fans of Buffalo thought that the reason Regier never made any big moves was because Golisano never gave him any money to play with. Pegula came in, gave Regier a blank check, and an endorsement to go out and put a championship team on the ice. He didn’t do it.
I told my family at the start of this season that if Buffalo didn’t get out of the first round of the playoffs this year, Regier would be fired, and possibly Ruff. Right now, Buffalo’s in competition for dead last in the East... Borrowing a miracle, they won’t make the playoffs. Regier may want to be looking for a new job.